Pull, re-treat, repeat. It is the cycle many producers succumb to, with the best intentions, to stay on top of bovine respiratory disease (BRD).
But with longer-acting antibiotics, more operations are learning that the best BRD treatment is a more effective antibiotic and the tincture of time.
The 2- to 3-day Cycle
In past years, some classes of antibiotics generally didn’t remain in the animal’s system for more than a few days. So if animals didn’t show improvement 24 to 48 hours after administering an antibiotic, it was usually necessary to pull and re-treat cattle.
But the stress of frequent handling can make it more difficult for cattle to recover. Not to mention that the labor and medication costs associated with re-treats can really add up.
Every re-treatment not only puts additional stress on the animal, it also decreases profit margins, adds to medication and labor costs and diverts time away from other aspects of the operation. So it’s better for your cattle — and your operation — if your antibiotic is effective against BRD the first time. Cattle that don’t respond to the first BRD treatment may experience long-term performance losses. By some estimates, up to two-thirds of cattle that don’t respond to the first treatment suffer from permanent health damage or die.1
Some classes of antibiotics are designed — and demonstrated — to stay in the animal’s system, fighting infection longer. For example, a single injection of DRAXXIN® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution provides up to 14 days of BRD therapy,2-5 and EXCEDE® (ceftiofur crystalline free acid) Sterile Suspension offers up to seven days of therapy.
By using a product shown to deliver a longer duration of therapy, you can enhance animal welfare by minimizing cattle stress from handling and at the same time help minimize re-treatment and labor expenses.
The Importance of the Post-treatment Interval (PTI)
If you’re used to shorter-acting antibiotics, it’s important to adjust your protocols to the PTI of the longer-acting products. The PTI is the time interval after the first treatment administration when the antibiotic should be allowed to work, until the point the animal can be classified as a nonresponder that merits re-treatment.
With DRAXXIN, for example, research has shown the PTI to be effective for up to 14 days.2-5 Although it may be tempting to re-treat a calf that still has a fever a few days after initial treatment, it’s important to remember that the antibiotic is still at work in the animal’s system. Re-treating before the full PTI has elapsed may not be effective or necessary.
A better option might be to simply move the calf to a less crowded area with plenty of hay, fresh water and shade where it can recover.
Building Effective PTI Protocols
Whether you’re familiar with a longer-acting antibiotic or trying an antibiotic with a demonstrated longer PTI for the first time, with any sick animal, re-assessment of the diagnosis and monitoring of response to BRD treatment by a veterinarian are important. This helps your veterinarian advise on an optimum PTI as well as to subsequent adjustments to treatment for your operation. Also, some animals may have other conditions that are not treatable with an antibiotic, so your veterinarian can help assess stage and type of disease for any animals that may die in the PTI period. Your veterinarian can also help devise protocols so all employees understand:
- What constitutes a sick animal that needs treatment
- When animals should be treated
- Which antibiotic to use
- Duration of therapy for the antibiotic
- How to identify treated animals
- When re-treatment is necessary
With a more effective, long-acting antibiotic, and a little patience, it’s possible to achieve a tangible reduction in cattle illness and death, re-treatment rates and treatment costs.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR DRAXXIN: DRAXXIN has a pre-slaughter withdrawal time of 18 days in cattle. Do not use in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older. Do not use in animals known to be hypersensitive to the product. See full Prescribing Information.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR EXCEDE: People with known hypersensitivity to penicillin or cephalosporins should avoid exposure to EXCEDE. EXCEDE is contraindicated in animals with known allergy to ceftiofur or to the β-lactam group (penicillins and cephalosporins) of antimicrobials. Inadvertent intra-arterial injection is possible and fatal. Do not use in calves to be processed for veal. Pre-slaughter withdrawal time is 13 days following the last dose. See full Prescribing Information.
1 Sweiger SH, Nichols MD. Control methods for bovine respiratory disease in stocker cattle. Vet Clin Food Anim Pract. 2010;26(2):261-271.
2 Freedom of Information Summary. NADA 141-244 - DRAXXIN Injectable Solution (tulathromycin). Food and Drug Administration; 2005.
3 Data on file, Study Report No. 1131R-60-05-485, Zoetis Inc.
4 Data on file, Study Report No. 1133R-60-09-749, Zoetis Inc.
5 Data on file, Study Report No. 1133R-60-05-489, Zoetis Inc.